Understanding Addiction with Reflections Recovery Center

Tag Archives: Drug Addiction

What Families Need to Know About Painkiller Withdrawal

Painkiller addiction (addiction to opioid-based prescription drugs) is a very real concern in the United States, and has been for over a decade – as the opioid epidemic grew and claimed more lives. Because abuse of prescription painkillers and painkiller addiction is deadly – yet can start off in a seemingly harmless way – it’s extremely important for parents and families to be educated on painkiller addiction, withdrawal and the need for painkiller addiction treatment

Painkiller Withdrawal is Dangerous and Can Be Deadly without Medical Detox

The number 1 most important thing that families need to know about painkiller withdrawal is that quitting suddenly can be dangerous, and the withdrawal symptoms from painkiller addiction can be deadly, if not treated with medically supervised opioid detox.
We cannot stress this enough, if you have a loved one that is addicted to painkillers and opioid-based prescription drugs. Do not let them quit cold turkey, get them into proper care with medically assisted painkiller detox.

Why Painkiller Addiction is So Dangerous

Prevent Prescription Opioid Abuse in Your Home

According to a study on “Association of Household Opioid Availability and Prescription Opioid Initiation Among Household Members,” dangerously addictive prescription painkillers prescribed to one person in the family can easily wind up in the hands of others in the house.

Not only are family members likely to take prescription opioids to get high if they are easily accessible in the home, but the study also shows that when a person in a family gets prescribed opioids, other members are more likely to get a similar prescription filled within 12 months.

When one family member takes prescription opioids that were meant for another member of the family, this is called drug diversion and opioid initiation. The risk is that the person taking the opioids may become addicted, and quickly seek out new sources of opioids.

“When opioids are prescribed to one family member, there is a 12% risk that other family members will consume those drugs, and be ‘initiated’ into opioid abuse and addiction through this exposure.”

75% of heroin users in treatment admit that their addiction started with prescription painkiller opioids, and many of those that developed a substance abuse issue with prescription painkillers admit that they started taking the pills from their parents’ or other family members’ prescriptions. This makes the prescriptions painkillers that are not locked up and are easily accessible to other family members the #1 root cause of heroin addiction.

When you look at the heroin epidemic today, having killed of 65,000 Americans in 2016, drug diversion from unsecured medications in your family’s home is dangerous and 100% preventable. Parents especially should not leave any prescription medications accessible to children or any other family members.

The Risks of Opioid Addiction with Chronic Pain, Injuries and Illnesses

Opioid medications and painkillers really do serve legitimate medical purposes, and are often the best medical option for treating illnesses associated with pain and chronic pain. If a loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic pain issue or illness that causes pain, they need medications to control the pain and preserve quality of life. However, families should remember that that problems with medications can arise, and families should be looking out for the best interest of their loved ones when it comes to opioid medications and any other prescription drugs.We are not saying that you need to take away your loved one’s painkillers at the first sign of a problem. We are simply saying that – for the benefit of your loved one’s health and safety – you should be aware of what medications your loved one is taking, the risks of those medications, the doctor’s recommended dosage, and the symptoms and signs that an addiction is forming.

Painkiller Addiction Among Athletes

Prescription Painkiller Addictions in the Young and Elderly

Those that are in their formative years (12-25), and those that are elderly (55+) are especially prone to opioid use disorders and misuse of painkillers. If your children are prescribed opioid painkillers for injuries or illnesses, you as a parent should immediately educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of addiction, withdrawal and overdose.

While it may feel like an invasion of your child’s privacy, or an overstepping of your boundaries to count and monitor how many pain pills your child is taking after being prescribed opioids, it is needed for their safety and wellbeing. So many that have lost their lives in the past decade due to the opioid epidemic were originally prescribed painkillers by a doctor, and their lives may have been saved – if only family members intervened into the problem sooner.

Withdrawal FAQs

FAQs about Painkiller/Prescription Opioid Withdrawal

There are a great many questions that individual addicted to opioids and their family members may have about painkiller addiction – specifically about detox, withdrawal and recovery. We have gathered some common questions below, and given answers that will be beneficial to the loved ones of those suffering from opioid use disorders and addiction.

How Long After Taking Prescription Opioids will Painkiller Withdrawals Begin?

This depends on how much of an opioid a person has been taking, how long they have been taking the drugs, and what form of opioid painkiller they have been using. Different brands and types of painkillers have different half-lives.

The half-life of a drug is how long it takes for 50% of the dosage taken to be metabolized and released from your body. For example, morphine’s half-life is 2-3 hours. Opioids can also build up in the system, and if a person is taking a large amount of opioids, or a combination of different types of opioids, the half-life of the total amount of drugs in a person’s system can be compounded.

Generally, opioid withdrawal timelines state that – in most cases – opioid withdrawal begins within 6-12 hours, peaks at about 72 hours, and a person should be through the painkiller withdrawal within 7 days.

My Loved One Is Addicted to Painkillers and was Arrested. Should I Let Them Stay in Jail to Get Off Drugs?

No. A person in jail is not going to receive proper medically assisted detox, or the medical care they need. Families need to realize just how serious a condition opioid addiction is, and that a person can die from painkiller withdrawal.

There have been numerous cases of families not posting bail for a loved one, or allowing them to stay in jail for an extend period of time, to give them time to “sober up.” Many of these cases have ended in death or serious injury to the addict due to painkiller and opioid withdrawals.

The proper way to deal with this situation is to make sure that they get medically assisted painkiller detox to get them stabilized and out of the danger zone of acute painkiller withdrawal. After they have been stabilized, it is fine to leave them to pay for their mistakes through incarceration, or any other penalty the courts and law enforcement decide upon. However, getting an addict stabilized through medical detox is essential to their life, safety, and wellbeing.

I’ve Heard Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Detox is Just Using One Drug to Replace Another. Is This True?

No, medication assisted treatment for detox is not replacing one addiction for another. MAT detox is clinical treatment to safely stabilize a patient that is addicted to a drug or alcohol, and remove the last of the drugs and alcohol from their system, before they can receive substance abuse counseling and work on staying sober.
MAT detox for does use medications similar to painkillers, heroin and other opioids to stabilize the patient, but it utilizes these medications on a taper and titration schedule (slowly decreasing the amount of the medication down to zero). This is the safest way for a person to stop using drugs, and will prevent the deadly withdrawal symptoms seen if detox is attempted cold turkey.

Opioid replacement therapy, is likely what you have heard arguments against – calling it replacing one addiction for another. This is used in cases of extreme addiction, where relapse is likely to end in a deadly overdose.

Suboxone and methadone clinics are examples of facilities that offer opioid replacement therapy – where a patient goes daily, weekly or monthly to receive medications that keep withdrawal symptoms from appearing. This type of treatment is not for everybody, and we recommend MAT detox that has the goal of getting the patient completely off drugs, by the end of the schedule.

Painkiller Addiction Detox, Treatment, and Recovery

Reflections Recovery Center offers a full continuum of treatment in our painkiller addiction treatment programs for men. We assist families who need help and immediate assistance for a loved one addicted to painkillers, opioids, and/or heroin – offering intervention services, medically assisted opioid detox, evidence-based and proven clinical and therapeutic addiction counseling and treatment, as well as aftercare and family support throughout recovery.

We urge parents and family members who don’t know where to turn with their loved one’s addictions to contact us for an addiction assessment and recommendation for long term painkiller addiction recovery.

Family Support for Painkiller Addiction

Oxycontin Detox at Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona

Unresolved Grief and Addiction: How Self Medication Turns into Addiction

Grief hurts. There is no magic pill for healing your grief. And honestly, it’s insulting when people tell you to just get over it and move on. It just plain sucks.

Who among us can say it takes this amount of time or that amount of behavior to stop grieving? Time heals nothing you don’t work on.

And it’s tough. The emotional pain of grief is tantamount to a slow recovery from major surgery. So, naturally, we avoid it if we can. But avoiding it heals nothing either.

It’s easy to see why people use substances to avoid the pain, often falling into addiction and adding another problem to their grief.

What Causes Grief? 

There are many life events that cause grief. Here are some of the things that cause normal grief:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Death of a friend
  • Divorce
  • Divorce of a parent
  • Loss of a pet
  • Ending of a friendship or relationship
  • Loss of a job
  • Trauma of physical or emotional abuse
  • Seeing a loved one suffer
  • Loss of familiar surroundings
  • Remembering past losses and abuses
  • Major change in any meaningful part of life

Any great loss, change or traumatic experience can cause significant grief. Perhaps particularly apropos for people abusing substances, the loss of identity, loss of self and a life wasted in substance abuse can be the biggest grief-causing trauma of all. Regret turns into grieving.

The Impact of Grief

Although grief and loss are deeply personal issues and there is no typical response, psychology experts recognize five main stages of grief:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

These stages aren’t necessarily in order, and are as individual as human DNA. However, being aware of our feelings and understanding them does help us cope. It’s also nice to know we’re not alone and we’re not the only ones who’ve ever felt this way.

Being capable of coping and being able to accept loss does not mean we’re OK with what happened, but it does mean we are willing to get better and begin to live again.

Uncomplicated Grief

Uncomplicated grief, or normal grief, is the natural sorrow we all go through when dramatic situations arise. Going through the grieving process is how we deal with loss. It’s not a bad thing; it’s a healthy response to a difficult situation.

Symptoms of uncomplicated grief include:

  • Pining for a lost relationship
  • Longing for a person who has passed away
  • Yearning for a lost companion
  • Preoccupation with loss, sadness and depression
  • Difficulty accepting a change in one’s life
  • Agitation, irritability and anxiety

While these symptoms are excruciating, people learn to accept them and come to terms with their loss. Although the memory of a loved one or relationship will never be forgotten, bereaved individuals learn that they have other people and goals in life to pay attention to. After a period of emotional work and spiritual growth, people with uncomplicated grief recover.

Complicated Grief

Unresolved Grief and Addiction: How Self Medication Turns into AddictionTen to 20 percent of those grieving develop complicated grief. In these cases, sorrowful feelings worsen over time instead of improving.

People with complicated grief are often predisposed to addictions. They can be codependent, love addicted, sex addicted or have none of those conditions. Grief itself can be an addictive habit.

People suffering from complicated grief do not let the memory of the person or loss go. They keep the memories alive in their heads by focusing on them and inadvertently feeding their own pain. Stimulating these thoughts in one’s head activates the reward center in the brain.

Similarly, clinging to a past love fires the brain’s pleasure signals, resulting in a chemical reward resembling being with your lover in person. In this way, complicated grief sucks people into an ever-winding whirlpool of sadness and painful/pleasurable emotion. Having complicated grief or bereavement disorder makes one prone to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Coping with Drugs

For people getting clean and feeling emotions, they are not used to coping with without substances, it can be overwhelming. Many of us can’t handle the rush of emotions that flood our souls once the drugs and alcohol wear off. So much of our society buys into the “I need a drink!” way of thinking, and we learn to numb our feelings with alcoholism, substance abuse and other unmanageable addictions that give our brains feel-good chemicals.

It seems fine at first. After all, “It’s what everyone does,” we reason. Unfortunately, substance use turns into addiction and numbing the pain becomes the only way we deal with (or neglect dealing with) feelings. When grief is stuffed down and out of mind, instead of getting better, people get worse.

Addiction and Grief 

While drug and alcohol abuse seems to offer solace to grieving souls, that temporary escape fuels the same neural pathways as the grief-love cycle. Both addiction and relationship attachment – including the memory of love – arouse the same part of the brain.

People in bereavement are vulnerable to drug addiction, and people abusing drugs are prone to cling to grief until it becomes a disorder. Ultimately, which comes first is irrelevant.

Self-Medicating Grief

Cross-addictions come in many forms like alcohol and heroin, meth and Oxy, alcohol, and gambling. For people suffering from loss, it is not uncommon to self-medicate grief with alcohol and drugs.

When simple grief evolves into complicated grief, it becomes a chronic, debilitating mental health condition. And in this weakened state, seeking emotional pain relief through self-medicating substances ramps up.

Codependency and addiction to a person, love or sex carry much grief and loss when the relationship ends – whether due to death or a break-up. At times like these, people are drawn into drugs and alcohol to quiet their minds and to stop feeling.

Toxic Grief 

Grief is painful. Pain makes us gravitate toward relief of suffering. It’s natural.

Even superheroes grieve. With powers like the ability to regrow limbs and stave off cancer, they can find no superpower to avoid emotional pain. And without treatment, even heroes grieve violently, ingest large doses of drugs or attempt suicide. Prolonged complicated grief is toxic.

In dealing with grief and substance abuse in men, effective treatment involves addressing not only the symptoms of substance abuse and addiction, but also the work necessary to overcome deep grief. Although feeling pain is tough, going through it with guidance and support is the way to get emotionally healthy and abandon self-medicating habits.

Summoning the strength to quit drugs and let go of unhealthy attachments takes work. It takes a commitment and surrender to the process. But with the proper treatment and a desire to change, men are accomplishing such feats every day at Reflections Recovery Center.

How to Help a Family Member Suffering from Grief and Addiction

If you have a loved one dealing with substance abuse and you suspect it’s tied to grief – either through the loss of a family member or friend, a divorce or other type of deep-seated grief from the past – you need to get your loved one help at a dual diagnosis rehab center. A dual diagnosis treatment center for men, specifically those dealing with grief and addiction, will offer the best chance at a full recovery from both co-occurring disorders. Reflections Recovery offers just such a program for men.

Regardless of whether your loved one is predisposed to addiction or not, whether the addiction or grief came first, treating substance abuse is the initial therapy. Until a person can think clearly and feel things soberly, no grief work can be done.

Only getting help for addiction and not treating the grief leaves people vulnerable to relapse or developing another addiction. Unresolved emotional issues like complicated grief can wreak havoc for a lifetime.

Read More About Trauma and Addiction

Signs You’re Living with a Functional Drug Addict

Addicts are generally depicted as people who have turned to illegal substances and have hit rock-bottom. They have been stereotyped as individuals who come from dysfunctional households, earn meager income, and are school dropouts. Addicts are usually assumed to be violent and angry people who are either high or just coming down from one. This is far from true. There are actually addicts who do manage to do things normally and successfully, or so they say.

What is a High-Functioning Addict?

Signs You're Living with a Functional Drug AddictA high-functioning addict can be the family doctor, a preschool school teacher, the successful lawyer with the nice office, or the busy and very personable soccer mom. A high-functioning addict may seem to be living a happy, balanced, and successful life. He has a caring and loving family and friends, have great a job, is active in church and the community, and has interests and hobbies for him to de-stress. The reality is that he secretly takes his substance of abuse for him to function through the day.

A high-functioning addict is highly capable of keeping his addiction a secret from everyone. He is skilled in going through his daily activities without his addiction getting in the way. Most high-functioning addicts believe that they do not have a substance abuse problem. They think that they can handle their substance addiction, unwittingly jeopardizing themselves for psychological and physical health problems.

Get The Discussion Started With An Intervention. Learn More.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a state in which an individual is compelled to repeatedly use an illicit substance or engage in an activity that he finds rewarding. A person can be addicted to substances such as prescription drugs, alcohol, cocaine, and more, or in activities such as gambling.  Scientific studies indicate that the addictive substance or behavior strongly activates that brain center of reinforcement and reward, involving the dopamine neurotransmitter.

Individuals who develop an addiction are not readily aware that their tolerance to the pertaining substance or behavior has increased.  The brain’s executive functions are affected that is why an “addict” does not realize that his behavior is harming himself and those around him. Thus, a high-functioning addict’s mindset is the same.

Recognizing a High-functioning Addict

Individuals turn to drugs for various reasons. For example, a college student may use stimulants to enhance his focus while studying, or an athlete may use prescription painkillers due to an injury, or a stay-at-home mom may turn an occasional wine before dinner into a devastating alcohol addiction.

Are you living with an addict? If he or she is a high-functioning one, then knowing if he or she is an addict is not as easy. High-functioning addicts can readily hide or disguise their drug problems without family and friends knowing any better. However, there are ways to discern and unmask one.

Denial is a key sign of addiction. High-functioning addicts may not use drugs on a daily basis. They may prefer to drink only the finest wines and do designer drugs. They can effortlessly manage their family and career, fulfilling their obligations and responsibilities easily. They may even feel entitled to indulge in their substance of addiction as a means of rewarding themselves for their hard work. Recognizing that they have an addiction problem is farthest in their mind. Their friends and loved ones sometimes fail to recognize the addiction problem even if they are presented with facts.

Changes in Behavioral Patterns. No matter how many functional addicts rationalize that they do not have an addiction, they will still experience the consequences.  Subtle changes in their behavior uncharacteristic of them may appear. They may have the tendency to isolate themselves, refusing to interact socially and failing to do family obligations. Professionally, they may show lack of focus in doing tasks, miss deadlines, and might frequently call in sick. They may show some physical signs of addiction such as paranoia, insomnia, and unsteadiness in their movements.

Master of Excuses. A high-functioning addict is a master in making excuses for his unusual behavior and strange occurrences. Coming home drunk or high, he will usually cook up a seemingly realistic story to cover his addiction.

Double Life Situation. Leading a double life becomes the norm for high-functioning addicts. He is the exact opposite of the person he shows and maintains to the outside world. He exudes confidence, success, and everything that is truly remarkable but when the curtain is drawn and he is by himself, his inner demons manifest. On occasions, he feels the burden of his lies and deception, but this does not mean he is ready to admit his addiction and seek rehabilitation. Hitting rock-bottom seems to be the thing that could motivate him to seek treatment.

Being in a relationship with a high-functioning addict is not easy as he does not fit the typical drug addict or alcoholic.  His job is his anchor of keeping sane as it offers him financial stability to support his addiction. The regular working hours offer him consistency and structure. The job gives him a sense of being someone else, and not an addict. He is mostly at work that it makes it easy to do his drugs or alcohol away from the eyes of his family.

A great concern is that unless he admits his addiction, he continues to be a liability to himself and to those around him.

Tell-tale Signs of Addiction

Classified as a chronic brain disease, addiction will ultimately lead to lower quality of life, health issues, financial problems, work problems and family/relational problems for the addict. Are you in a relationship and is not quite sure if your partner has addiction problems because of his weird actions? Here are some signs that you are dating an addict.

  • Your partner can’t seem to limit his drinks or “recreational drugs”.
  • He claims that he is feeling just a bit under the weather and needs to drink or take drugs to feel nice and comfy.
  • You notice that something is not quite right with his behavior, and then he attempts to weave stories and lies about his consumption.
  • He has not introduced you to his buddies, and then you found out that his buddies do drugs or binge on alcohol.
  • After a tasking work is done, your partner rewards himself by binging on alcohol or drugs.

Addiction has its repercussions, and an addict will most likely attribute his addiction-related problems for other reasons. His thoughts are preoccupied with the substance of his addiction, always finding ways to get a hit. Since high-functioning addicts can deceive their family, the very same family became his enablers -defending and making excuses for him. Until he hits rock-bottom, a high-functioning addict will not seek help.

The question now is: “How to help a functioning addict?”

For family and friends, it is important to support and understand the person with an addiction problem. There are various reasons why he started abusing substances and condemning him at this point will not be constructive. Intervention and treatment are the solutions. Now!

Reflections Recovery Centeroffers detoxification and rehabilitation for men with substance abuse problem. There is none of that sterile-constricting hospital setting but facilities that afford a young and edgy vibe that inspires patients to get well.

Why Men's Only Rehab Works - Reflections Recovery Center

Is Your Husband Hiding Addiction?

Wives with husbands who are struggling with addiction often find it difficult to understand why their spouses are attempting to hide their addictions from them. In many cases, a wife believes her husband is intentionally trying to hide his addiction from her with mischievous intentions or to prevent her from helping him.

The reality is that it is rare for a person to hide a disease such as addiction for malicious reasons. The fact is, addiction is a serious illness with a wide range of symptoms that tend to intensify the feelings of denial, guilt and shame, all of which impair a person’s ability to seek help.

In most circumstances, the most effective support team for an addicted husband is his family, which is why it is important for family members to be aware of the fundamental components of substance abuse and how they can best support their addicted loved one. The following information about the effects of addiction on the body and mind can help you understand this disease and how to handle a husband’s addiction in the most effective way possible.

Husband Hiding Addiction: Concerning Withdrawal Symptoms

Addiction has a plethora of symptoms that are identical to those of serious diseases. Consisting of both mental and physical problems, the list of addiction withdrawal symptoms includes these mental conditions and physical problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Headaches
  • Isolation
  • Sweating
  • Lack of concentration
  • High heart rate and blood pressure
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Chest pain
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea

As you can see, addiction has severe withdrawal symptoms, which demonstrates that this disorder can be as truly debilitating as many other diseases. In fact, withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and depression can make recovering from addiction even more difficult for individuals pursuing sobriety.

Denial

It can be particularly hard for someone to address the negative feelings connected with his addiction or even think of himself as a person who is dependent on substances. In some circumstances, individuals can find themselves dependent on drugs or alcohol before they even realize it. Regardless of the individual’s awareness of the problem, it is human nature to want to avoid unpleasant realities.

When someone has a disease or symptoms that negatively affect their health, they tend to deal with the problem by refusing to believe it completely or by using rationalization, justification and excuses. Since the primary symptom of denial is the refusal to believe in its own presence, denial is extremely difficult to conquer alone. Even though denial is frustrating, it is likely your husband believes he is doing the right thing by hiding his pain.

Guilt and Shame

Even if your husband understands his addiction for what it is, he might be hiding the severity of it due to profound feelings of guilt and shame. Living with an addiction compels people to act in ways they would not normally act, just to make it through the day. In most cases, people struggling with substance abuse are not truly in control, due to addiction’s ability to control the mind and the body.

When someone is addicted, he or she feels forced to find the means to get the substance of choice every day. It becomes an obsession and compulsion, which can cause someone to do things that make them feel ashamed.

As substance use continues, someone struggling with addiction may gravitate toward their substance of choice to shut out their guilt. Like denial, the guilt and shame can make a husband feel he needs to shield his wife from the pain he would cause her if she understood how much he was struggling. Often, husbands believe they can handle the problem themselves. 

How to Help an Addict Husband

Addiction can be one of the most difficult problems a couple faces during their marriage, which is why seeking addiction help for your husband is critical to restoring the foundation of trust in your relationship. While your husband may believe that shielding you from his addiction is viable means of ensuring your protection, keeping you in the dark is doing a disservice to everyone involved.

Family Intervention

The best way to overcome this hurdle is with a comprehensive family addiction intervention. This can break down the walls of denial through the facilitation of honesty, empathy and understanding.

The goal of an intervention is to enable the healing to commence. After your husband has acknowledged his addiction, the family can move toward recovery, which will include family addiction support, focused on rebuilding trust between you and your husband.

Addiction Help for Husbands

While professional guidance can go a long way, nothing can hold a candle to having the support of a loved one during recovery. For this reason, Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona stresses the importance of including patients’ families throughout treatment.

Believing that effective communication builds trust, the mental health experts at Reflections can provide you and your family with a family communication specialist who will serve as a liaison throughout the course of recovery.

See Our Family Counseling Services

Nutritional Deficiencies and Substance Abuse: Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

Nutrition is closely tied to substance abuse and addiction. While using drugs and alcohol, poor nutrition makes changes to the way the body and brain function. These changes and the deficiency of vitamins and nutrients in the body are one of the root causes of the negative symptoms that many who have been abusing drugs and alcohol feel.

Symptoms of nutritional deficiency, coupled with the symptoms of withdrawal, can make the first days and weeks of sobriety draining – mentally and physically. Coupling nutritional therapy with detox and rehabilitation therapies eases many of the symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawal and can make for an easier early recovery.

Am I Malnourished from Drugs and Alcohol?

It is fairly easy to recognize the symptoms of malnutrition, though many who abuse alcohol, opiates or other drugs don’t readily make the connection between how they are feeling and their substance use. Drugs and alcohol not only leech vitamins and nutrients from the body, but slow the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat.

Think about how you still felt healthy before or even during the first months and years of your substance abuse. As the use continued, it became harder to feel your best; your highs seem lower and your lows sink lower. Even drugs and alcohol can’t cover the symptoms of your body signaling that it is malnourished.

Signs and Symptoms of Nutritional Deficiency from Drugs and Alcohol

Just as nutritional deficiencies happen slowly, and get worse over time, the signs and symptoms of poor nutrition from alcohol and drug use disorders will build slowly over time, and get much worse the longer you continue to abuse substances. Below is a detailed list of symptoms, many of which will be very familiar to anyone who has abused alcohol or illicit or prescription drugs.

Drug and Alcohol Fatigue

Fatigue is common with extended drug and alcohol use, and worsens as the deficiency of protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, Vitamins C, B1, B12 and other B vitamins grows. The lack of these nutrients also contributes to:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cardiac failure
  • Anemia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Major depression

Itchy, Dry Skin and Easily Bruising 

Skin symptoms caused by excessive use of alcohol and drugs like heroin and opioids are quite common, and often tied directly back to lack of specific nutrients. Dry skin is a sign of missing essential fatty acids. A lack of vitamin C also causes a long list of skin problems, including red,flushed skin, excessive bruising and excessive itching.

Muscle Pains and Cramps 

Alcohol is especially hard on muscles and muscle tissue, and alcoholics will have noticeably deteriorated muscle mass. Vitamin deficiencies hamper the ability for muscles to repair themselves and will cause worsening muscle pains and cramps. Magnesium, Vitamin D, B1, sodium and potassium deficiencies are characterized by increased cramping, spasms and muscle soreness.

Opioid addiction is synonymous with muscle pains and cramping, especially during opioid withdrawal. These pains are amplified by vitamin deficiency, which is why vitamin therapy for opioid addicts is recommended in early recovery and opiate/opioid detox.

Diarrhea and Constipation with Alcohol and Opioid Use Disorders 

Gastrointestinal health is severely impaired with alcohol and opioid addiction, and nutritional deficiency worsens those problems. Diarrhea is a common problem with alcohol abuse, while constipation is prevalent in opioid use. Serious constipation arises in individuals abusing prescription opioids, and the filler drugs in pills like Oxycontin, Vicodi, and other opioids worsens the problem.

A lack of vitamin B3 can be blamed for persistent diarrhea and can contribute to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and malabsorption can occur with the continued abuse of alcohol and drugs. Constipation is a sign of a deficiency of:

  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • The most important element for a healthy body: water

Dehydration is not only a deficiency in itself, but can cause the deficiency of all other nutrients and vitamins.

Neurobiological Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiency 

Some of the most severe symptoms of poor diet and nutrition from drugs and alcohol start in the brain, causing the following:

  • Restless legs
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of balance
  • Feeling vibrations and numb spots
  • Lack of ability to feel vibrations
  • Weakness and shakiness of extremities
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Numbness and tingling of the hands and feet

A lack of vitamins B1, B12, B3, B6 and E contributes to the above symptoms and is a sign that the poor nutrition is beginning to affect the brain and nervous system. Folate, essential fatty and amino acids, and Riboflavin are important for cognitive and nervous system function, and opiate use in particular will trigger these symptoms.

Depression, Irritability, Anxiety and Lack of Concentration 

Anyone who has experienced problematic drinking will know that irritability, anxiety and depression seem to work together in a cycle that makes quitting drinking feel almost impossible. The good news is that many of these symptoms have more to do with poor nutrition from alcohol use than the alcohol itself.

Starting a nutritional rehabilitation regimen during early recovery from alcohol addiction can greatly reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

With opioid use, too, one can minimize depression and anxiety by replacing essential vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin C, B, B3, B6, B12, folate, fatty acids, iron and magnesium.

Nutritional Rehabilitation Through the Phases of Addiction Rehabilitation

Vitamin, dietary and nutritional therapy are essential in three stages of stopping and recovering from alcohol abuse and alcoholism. First, it is necessary to boost the body with essential nutrients before or while tapering down the amount of alcohol being taken in.

With serious alcohol addiction and dependence, it may be difficult or impossible to go through a nutritional “primer” to prepare the body for quitting alcohol. However, if it is possible to start vitamin therapy for alcohol abuse before the detox phase, doing so can help ease the symptoms of withdrawal during alcohol detox.

Second, a complete and medical alcohol detox program will begin the process of detoxing from alcohol dependence. Detox specialists will administer multivitamins specifically made to address the needs of alcohol cessation, especially for the acute withdrawal symptoms.

Third, the rehabilitation plan should include a nutritional program for alcohol recovery. This nutrition plan should include a mix of fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and grains so the body can get used to absorbing the nutrients it needs naturally, and away from the need for supplements. A successful dietary rehabilitation program should teach the individual in recovery how to make the right nutritional choices in sobriety.

Vitamins for Alcohol Detox and Recovery

(Note: Always check with your doctor or a nutritional therapist before starting any vitamin therapy.) There are a number of vitamins and nutrients that alcohol depletes from the body, but some of the most common deficiencies in those with a history of abusing alcohol include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B9 (folate)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Magnesium
  • L-Glutamine (amino acid)
  • L-Tyrosine (amino acid)
  • L-Theanine (amino acid)
  • 5-HTP (Serotonin Precursor)
  • Omega 3 (fish oil)
  • DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA)
  • Multivitamins (for iron, zinc and other minerals)

Vitamins for Heroin/Opioid Detox and Recovery 

(Note: Always check with your doctor or a nutritional therapist before starting any vitamin therapy.) There are a number of vitamins and nutrients that heroin, prescription painkillers and other opioids deplete from the body, but some of the most common deficiencies in those with a history of opioid addiction and opioid use disorder include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B9 (folate)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • L-Glutamine (amino acid)
  • L-Tyrosine (amino acid)
  • DL-Phenylalanine (amino acid)
  • L-Tyrosine (amino acid)
  • 5-HTP (serotonin precursor)

Addressing Nutritional Deficiencies and Substance Abuse in Rehab

Recovering from deficiencies and a poor diet is just as important as your recovery from alcohol or drugs. After an extended period of time of alcohol and drug abuse, the body and mind will need to be retrained to make healthy nutritional choices. Without nutritional therapy and training, the body will attempt to get “quick fixes” from junk food sources.

Avoiding Sugar in Recovery 

Many in early recovery develop sugar cravings and, even, sugar addiction. This is the body craving a quick and easy source of energy. Reintroducing the body to natural sources of vitamins and staying away from too much sugar will be key in your recovery.

When you start your recovery from substance abuse and addiction – whether it involves opioids, cocaine, meth or alcohol – addressing nutritional deficiency will be one of the first and most important steps. It is important to know that even though the first stages of detox and rehabilitation are tough, proper nutritional therapy can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

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Effective Ways to Prevent Relapse After Addiction Rehab

Completing an addiction recovery program is a huge accomplishment, and it’s the first step in living a long and healthy life. To maintain the new trajectory you started in treatment, you’ll need to tend to your recovery on an ongoing basis. This is a lifelong process and having some tips for preventing relapse can be helpful. While there is no magic solution to banish the possibility of relapse, you can apply some methods to stay on track.

Avoid Tempting Situations

The Four D's for Relapse PreventionIf you’re newly out of rehab, it might not be wise to meet up with your old friends. Some people decide to test their willpower and hang out with old friends who still use to prove it no longer affects them, but this is inherently dangerous. Stay clear of emotional and physical triggers, especially early in recovery. Avoid going places where there will be substance abuse, as well as people or places that remind you of times you used.

In the same regard, seek out a positive support network. Be around people who do not abuse substances and who support your new lifestyle. Unhealthy relationships and unhealthy people don’t have a place in your new life, as they will only tempt you back into your old one.

Observe the 4 D’s

Throughout the course of your treatment, we’ll help you prepare for the challenges of re-entering the real world. In rehab, your access to substances is restricted, but once you transition back to mainstream society, the only true control is yourself. For this reason, many mental health professionals suggest following the 4 Ds when cravings strike:

Delay

In other words, delay the decision to use. Sometimes, you struggle minute to minute, and those minutes can stretch into what seems like a lifetime. Remind yourself that it’s only a fraction of your day. The longer you successfully delay your decision, the weaker those cravings will become.

De-Stress

Take a series of deep, steady breaths when you experience a craving, as this will help calm your mind and slow your heart rate. Focus on the movement of your diaphragm – up and down, in and out. This will increase the amount of oxygen to your brain, which becomes restricted when we’re in panic mode.

Distract

Find something to do, other than using. This one is easier said than done because cravings can seem to take over your whole world. Do whatever you need to do to distract yourself from the craving, whether it’s cleaning your home, taking a walk, or calling a friend.

De-Catastrophize

In other words, don’t panic. Once panic sets in, it’s easy to lose control. Think of how much stronger you’ll be for the experience, even if you don’t feel strong at the moment. Each time a craving passes, remind yourself of your inner strength. Positive thinking doesn’t have to be all sunshine and rainbows. It can be as simple as acknowledging when you conquer a challenge.

Acknowledge Co-Occurring Mental Disorders

Many who come through our doors suffer from a dual diagnosis. That’s when the substance dependency happens alongside a mental issue of some kind, like anxiety or depression. Part of staying ahead of your addiction is recognizing the role your mental disorder plays in it. To maintain your recovery effectively, you’ll have to tend to your substance abuse and your other mental health diagnoses, because you’ll have triggers for both.

Acknowledge the Journey

Remember, recovery is a journey, not a destination. And as with all journeys, the landscape will change over time.

In the earliest days of your recovery and beyond, your main priority should be your health. While boredom can be a problem for people newly out of rehab, so can having too much on your plate. Don’t cram too much into your schedule for the sake of being busy. Create balance and know your limits to minimize your stress. Getting plenty of exercise and sleep is also important. The more you tend to your health, the better off you’ll be.

One of the main problems people have after being out of treatment for a while is becoming too complacent.  It’s natural for motivation to wane over time, but perform a “recovery audit” once in a while. It’s not necessary to attend meetings forever, but find other ways to support your recovery efforts so that you don’t become complacent.

Continually striving to take care of yourself and knowing your triggers will help ensure your life is long and healthy.

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The Value of Recreational Activities in Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment

When a person struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, the substance often becomes the person’s only means of feeling pleasure or contentment. Both physically and behaviorally, addictive substances can replace activities that once brought the user joy, such as eating, physical activity and favorite hobbies.

Drugs can alter the brain’s reward center, disrupting opioid receptor function and flooding the brain with dopamine, the chemical responsible for producing feelings of pleasure and happiness. Eventually, a user may no longer experience joy in everyday life without consuming drugs or alcohol.

The goal of addiction treatment is to help the user once again receive pleasure and enjoyment from everyday activities, without the need for substances. At Reflections Recovery Center, we combine talk therapy and other traditional addiction treatment methods with recreational activities in order to maximize the physical, mental and emotional wellness of our men.

Benefits of Recreational Activities in Addiction Treatment

While talk therapy can be very beneficial and is an important part of treatment, it is also good to get outdoors and take part in physical activities that engage the whole person and allow for different types of expression and learning.  

Recreational activities used in treatment can involve highly physical activities such as:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Running
  • Yoga

It can also include more leisurely activities such as:

  • Walking
  • Playing instruments
  • Singing and dancing
  • Creating or performing art
  • Hanging out in a safe and comfortable social environment

According to an article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs on “A Holistic Approach to Substance Abuse Treatment,” patients show improved self-esteem, self-confidence and self-identity when recreational activities were used in treatment.

Physical Health

For physical types of recreational activities, such as hiking and yoga, there are the usual physical benefits that come with any type of exercise. Some types of exercise also stimulate the release of endorphins that lead to a natural high, which in turn can help the body re-balance neurotransmitters – such as dopamine – back to normal, healthy levels.  

Yoga, along with meditation and other holistic activities, has also been shown to help reduce symptoms during withdrawal.

Mental & Emotional Health

Recreational activities can be a great way to relieve stress, anxiety, frustration and anger. They also allow people to reconnect with hobbies they enjoyed as a child, or discover new “healthy obsessions” that provide ongoing enjoyment and satisfaction.

Activities that emphasize mind-body-spirit integration – such as yoga, meditation and tai chi – help create a healthy relationship with oneself that is based on self-love and self-respect. This ultimately strengthens the resolve to create a new life of sobriety that includes fun and healthy activities.

When recreational activities are a group experience, they give recovering addicts a chance to bond with one another and forge healthy relationships that can last a lifetime. These social ties become very important both during and after inpatient treatment.

Relapse Prevention

One of the biggest challenges that men face after leaving inpatient treatment is finding new ways to fill the time – time they used to spend using drugs or drinking. By continuing the recreational activities they began in treatment, men have a safe and healthy way to combat boredom.

Men can also discover new social groups and forge healthy friendships when they join clubs and organizations centered around a favorite hobby or activity. This reduces the temptation to go back to hanging out with people who were part of their substance-laden past.

In short, recreational activities can be an important part of building a new life based on healthy, natural fun that meets the physical, mental, emotional and entertainment needs of men recovering from addiction.

Recreational Activities at Reflections Recovery Center

Mountains Rediscover The Joys In Nature - Reflections Recovery CenterOur treatment center strongly encourages clients to dive into healthy outdoor activities, sports and hobbies that reintroduce them to the pleasures in life outside of chemically induced highs. Over time, these become enjoyable habits that ultimately take the place of drugs or alcohol.

Types of recreational activities that our male clients participate in include:

  • Wilderness hikes
  • Mountain climbing
  • Swimming (in pools and lakes)
  • Softball
  • Biking
  • Skateboarding
  • BMXing
  • Bonfires and BBQs
  • Many other fun and exhilarating outdoor activities

Northern Arizona Outings

We often go on outings into the beautiful terrain of Prescott, the Valley, and Northern Arizona. The environment and surroundings of this area offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. We are located amid the gorgeous Bradshaw Mountains and framed by the 1.25 million-acre Prescott National Forest. The temperate climate in Prescott is ideal for year-round outdoor excursions.

We also offer lower-intensity activities such as exploring the local town of Prescott, which is rich in history and culture. We may arrange visits to museums, go on rides at amusement parks and engage similar fun activities.

The town of Prescott has parks for skateboarding, multiple basketball courts, public swimming pools and other outdoor resources.

At Reflections Recovery Center, it’s our mission to help men struggling with addiction rediscover the everyday joys in life and have a good time without relying on a substance.

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Why Nutritional and Vitamin Therapy is Essential In Alcohol Detox and Alcoholism Recovery

Nutrition allows the human body to generate energy and maintain its systems. Proper nutrition is essential to everyone, but individuals attempting to recover from alcohol abuse will have a much smoother detox experience with a diet supplemented by vitamin therapy. Prolonged consumption of large quantities of alcohol has several adverse effects on the body, and poor nutrition makes the detox and recovery process more stressful and uncomfortable.

Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

To recognize how important nutrition and vitamin supplements are to alcohol abuse recovery, it’s vital to understand the effects alcohol abuse has on the human body. Symptoms will vary case by case due to individual health factors, how long alcohol abuse has continued, and how far the addiction has progressed.

Some alcoholics are so severely addicted that the bulk of the nutrients in their diet come from the alcoholic beverages they consume. When the body cannot obtain the nutrients it needs from consumed food and drink, it will start breaking down other tissues in the body. This also impacts the body’s glucose levels. Glucose, or blood sugar, is a necessary component for healthy brain functions as well as other metabolic processes.

Excessive alcohol intake can deregulate the body’s ability to control blood glucose levels. This can cause hypoglycemia (decreased blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar). These conditions can be harmful, especially for individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes.

Alcohol and Digestion 

After food is consumed, the digestive system breaks it down into its smaller molecular components. The body absorbs these compounds to maintain vital systems and create energy. Alcohol prevents the efficient breakdown of food by inhibiting the production of digestive enzymes. Food may be consumed, but the body is far less capable of breaking it down into a useful form while there is alcohol in the body.

Even when food is successfully broken down, alcohol inhibits the processes the body uses to absorb the nutrients and use them. Over time, this means an alcoholic will progressively receive less and less energy from the food and alcohol they consume, depriving the body of essential nutrients at an increasingly faster pace.

Health Risks of Advanced Alcoholism 

Long-term alcohol abuse is one of the most physically damaging forms of substance abuse. Untreated alcoholism cannot only cause complications in virtually every bodily system, but it can be fatal. Some of the long-term or permanent effects of alcohol abuse include heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver from vitamin A and E deficiencies, nerve damage, and pancreatitis. Additionally, alcoholics often experience seizures due to impaired brain function, and many advanced alcoholics suffer from dehydration and malnutrition.

Wet Brain Syndrome 

An especially dangerous condition, common in advanced alcoholics, is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, often called “wet brain.” This condition manifests when the body is deprived of vitamin B1 (thiamine) for an extended period, and hinders nervous system and brain functions.

Addiction and Nutrition 

Malnutrition is more dangerous than many realize, and it often goes unaddressed for long periods of time of time with alcoholics. When the body does not obtain the nutrients it needs to continue essential functions, the entire body begins to degrade. Essentially, the human body will begin breaking itself down to survive. Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, and dehydration is not only dangerous, but over a long period of time, it can be seriously damaging to the body.

Alcohol itself is damaging to the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, but addictive patterns contribute to the damage as well. Most substance abusers will start neglecting self-care and other everyday activities as their addictions worsen. Eventually, the only thoughts are about where to find more alcohol. Not only does alcohol hurt the body when ingested, but the search for more alcohol also prevents the alcoholic from obtaining essential nutrition.

Vitamin Therapy 

When alcoholics seek treatment, it’s vital to address the damage that the alcohol has done to the body’s vital systems. Vitamin therapy describes treatment involving high doses of essential vitamins. This process helps the body regain essential functions. Vitamin therapy not only helps address malnutrition and dehydration and the severe issues they cause, but also helps the alcoholic by allowing them to approach the recovery process with a more solid foundation.

Addiction is deeply rooted in behavior, and while alcohol has a significant impact on physical health, the psychological battle with addiction is far more stressful and difficult. When the body and mind are deficient in essential vitamins, it becomes even harder.

The Detox Process 

Once the effects of an alcoholic’s last drink start to wane, he or she will begin experiencing withdrawal. Once the body has grown accustomed to a particular substance, it reacts negatively when that substance is no longer available – and this is withdrawal. For alcoholics, withdrawal typically entails delirium tremens, also called “DTs” or “the shakes,” and causes violent tremors. Additionally, severe anxiety, seizures, sweating, irregular heartbeat, fever, high blood pressure, hallucinations, nausea, and irritability commonly manifest during the withdrawal period.

Rebuilding the Body 

This is typically an excruciatingly painful process, and an alcoholic in withdrawal will experience intense cravings for more alcohol. With medical supervision and vitamin therapy, alcoholics can have a much easier time handling the onset of withdrawal and working through it.

The high doses of essential vitamins during treatment help jump-start the body’s essential functions. Vitamin therapy can be a valuable part of any alcoholic’s recovery and not only help the physical pains of detoxing, but also pave the way to a smoother psychological recovery with a healthier mind and body.

Though Alcohol Detox and Withdrawals Can Be Dangerous
Proper Detox Under Medical Supervision Is Safe, Painless, and a Necessary First Step in Addiction Recovery:

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Benzodiazepine Detox: Xanax and Valium Withdrawals Can Be Deadly

Many addicts believe they can quit “cold turkey.” As long as their willpower is strong enough, they assume they do not need rehabilitation or other long-term treatment. However, beating a drug addiction is not a matter of willpower, and quitting drugs cold turkey is extremely dangerous. Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are some of the most dangerous drugs to quit taking. Their withdrawals can be deadly, so if you are trying to stop them, you should seek medical detox.

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are effective in treating several conditions. As a result, users may not be fully aware they are taking them. Benzodiazepines are usually used to treat anxiety or insomnia. However, they also effectively treat seizures and convulsions, nausea and vomiting, and alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are used for general anesthesia or muscle relaxation.

Valium and Xanax are two of the most common benzos. Others include Ativan, Klonopin, Serax, and Halcion. Fast-acting benzodiazepines begin working in as little as 30-60 minutes. Slower-acting agents take several hours to work. Action duration can be as little as 11 hours, or as long as three days.

Dangers of Certain Benzos

While all benzodiazepine withdrawal is dangerous, some drugs are more deadly than others. Xanax, in particular, has been called “The Dangerous Benzodiazepine.” Its half-life, or the time it takes for the drug’s blood concentration to fall to half its peak value after a dose, is around 11 hours in the average adult. Thus, the effects of Xanax come on quickly and potently. Conversely, Xanax wears off quickly, causing users to take more in search of its calming effects. Xanax addiction happens faster than addiction to other downers.

Valium is another particularly dangerous benzo. It is one of the most common benzodiazepines on the illicit drug market. Some users take large amounts of Valium to mimic the effects of small amounts of Xanax. For example, a person taking 100 milligrams per day of Valium is taking an equivalent 5 milligrams of Xanax. While this might not sound like much, both drugs are extremely potent in these amounts.

How Benzodiazepine Addiction Happens

Many people become addicted to downers without fully realizing it. They begin with a prescription for a legitimate anxiety or pain issue, but due to the short half-lives of the drugs, the effects don’t last long. Therefore, the addict builds up a tolerance for higher doses. His or her doctor may realize what is happening and refuse to prescribe more of the benzos.

In cases where one doctor refuses to prescribe a benzodiazepine, an addict may engage in “doctor shopping.” Many users report going to one clinic and complaining of an individual issue, meeting with a doctor, and getting one prescription for Xanax, Valium, or OxyContin. Then the addict will go to a different clinic, report a different issue, and get a prescription for another benzodiazepine. The user learns to mix benzos for maximum effects, but he or she also increases the risk of severe symptoms, overdose, coma, or death.

The Dangers of Withdrawal from Downers

Detoxing is the most dangerous phase for the addict. Benzodiazepines are designed to alter brain chemistry, so the patient doesn’t experience anxiety, insomnia, or any other ailment for which the medicine is prescribed. However, this efficacy is what makes benzodiazepine withdrawal potentially deadly. An addict cannot “quit cold turkey” because his or her brain and body are both intensely dependent on the drug of choice. Even with regular dosages of the benzodiazepine, long-term use can lead to withdrawal-type symptoms.

Benzodiazepine users typically receive little support or advice when trying to stop using. Depending on the drug, withdrawal may not set in for days or weeks, giving the addict a false sense of security. Once withdrawal is in full swing, pain can be so severe the user returns to his or her drug for relief. The potential for overdose is especially high in such cases.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms often begin with symptoms the drug was initially meant to treat. That is a person who experienced anxiety or panic attacks may have severe flare-ups. Restlessness is common, as are aches and pains; some addicts experience chest pain and may worry they have heart attacks. Cramps, numbness, dizziness, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, urgency, and incontinence may occur.

During withdrawal, the brain chemistry will undergo severe changes. Most benzo addicts report memory and concentration problems. Others develop paranoia or obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Some users develop issues with perception, such as feeling that stationary objects are moving. Electric shock sensations and seizures can occur; if untreated, these may lead to coma or death.

Dealing with Benzodiazepine Detoxification Correctly

The safest way to undergo benzodiazepine withdrawal is with medical supervision. Contact your doctor or the professionals at a rehabilitation facility such as Reflections Recovery Center. Do not attempt to quit on your own, and do not lean only on family and friends for withdrawal care. Depending on your addiction, your doctor or another professional may recommend checking into inpatient treatment.

Seeking Help for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

If you or a loved one is addicted to benzodiazepines, get help now. Contact Reflections Recovery Center to learn about our program, which includes professional detox treatment & clinical therapies.

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Meth and Heroin Are Growing Problems in Prescott and Across Arizona

The Drug Problems in Arizona

Drug overdoses are killing Americans at an alarming rate. From 2000 to 2014, there were almost half a million deaths across the country. The rates have been climbing steadily since the 1990s, but 2014 showed a sharp upwards spike, increasing 14 percent in 12 months.

Arizona has a particularly unsightly history when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse. In 2014 the state ranked sixth in prescription drug overdoses and tied for fourth for alcohol-related deaths. In fact, around 13.4 percent of the working-age deaths were attributed to alcohol in some way.

Cocaine has been highly abused in Arizona as well. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported approximately 1.5 million current cocaine users aged 12 or older in 2014. Adults aged 18 to 25 years showed the highest rate of cocaine usage. Yet it appears a new problem is on the horizon, quickly taking hold of the number one spot.

Methamphetamines, the New Number One

Methamphetamines, The New Number OneMethamphetamines have become incredibly pervasive in Arizona. In 2015 alone, authorities seized almost 6,400 pounds. Even more alarming, this number represents a massive 294 percent increase over the past six years. In 2010 only 1,613 pounds were seized. The usage rates have now surpassed cocaine, which is more difficult to procure.

Erica Curry is a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Phoenix Division. According to Curry, meth has been recognized as the most prevalent drug partly due to Mexican cartels. The cartels are shifting cocaine trafficking efforts to Europe, where they are more profitable.

The Switch to Methamphetamines

With cocaine trafficking shifting to Europe, people are forced to look for other types of stimulants. Many are switching to methamphetamine, also supplied by the cartel. Curry says meth is more profitable for dealers because of the high demand. Addicts may need to use as often as every few hours to maintain the sensation of euphoria.

One former Prescott area former addict said she smoked twice an hour. “Even at my job, I would find bathrooms,” she said. “I could lock myself in the bathroom, smoke meth, and then go out and finish my mail route.” Today she is a manager at a recovery center and has been clean for eight years.

The Dangers of Methamphetamines

One of the biggest problems with this drug is how quickly it takes over the user’s life. All behaviors and actions redirect to focus on staying high. Haney said she would be awake for four days in a row when she first started using. Then, she could only focus on being high. She lost considerable weight because she didn’t eat regularly.

Sarah Harmon had a similar experience a few years ago. She was homeless before the age of 20 and resorted to stealing food and clothing. “I didn’t feel human anymore,” she admitted. “[Meth] came before everything.”

Meth Smuggling In Arizona

Meth labs are quite rare in Arizona, although there are still occasional cases. For the most part, manufacturing takes place in Mexico because of the Combat Methamphetamine Act of 2005. This law was signed in by President George W. Bush to limit the decongestant pseudoephedrine, a major ingredient in meth. The law limits the amount of over-the-counter medicine one person can purchase. Further, it is tracked by unique product IDs.

In Mexico, on the other hand, there are no restrictions on pseudoephedrine purchases. Drug producers can create hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine at one time and cart it across the border. Curry says this equals “pure profit for the Mexican cartels.”

The smugglers also advance their techniques. Curry says they have found meth in lotions, shampoos, and even toys.

Heroin, the Number Two

Although meth easily takes the top slot for drug abuse, heroin is a strong contender. It can be used in smaller doses than methamphetamine, but is not as easy to acquire. Even so, thousands of people turn to the substance each year. In 2014, 605 people required emergency room treatment for heroin overdoses.

Why Heroin Is So Prominent

Heroin Related Emergency Room TreatmentsLike most drugs, heroin begins with legal prescription drugs. Christina Corieri is the Health and Human Services Advisor for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. According to Corieri, 75 percent of heroin users begin with prescription pain relievers. This presents a unique environment for addiction, considering the amount of prescriptions dispensed in the United States. According to IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, 4.3 billion prescriptions were filled in 2014 alone.

“If you look at the United States we actually represent only 5 percent of the world’s population, and we represent 80 percent of the prescription drugs,” says Corieri. This means it’s incredibly easy to procure drugs and lay the foundation for addiction. Once people cannot sustain their needs on prescriptions they turn to heroin – the street version.

The Addiction Mind-Set

One of the biggest problems with prescription drug addiction is people may become hooked on the pain relievers without realizing it. Brittany Pinkston became addicted to opiates after a hand injury when she was 17. Pinkston says she didn’t consider herself to have a problem because the pills came from a doctor. Yet, within a month she was completely dependent on the drugs to help her sleep and work.

The Heroin Effect

Once people transition to heroin, it can be nearly impossible for them to recover their lives. The drug is deadly, particularly because it is often cut with other substances to dilute it and make it more profitable for the manufacturers. These substances can range from caffeine to rat poison, causing their own interactions and potentially becoming more dangerous than heroin itself.

Heroin use is becoming more prevalent in the United States, despite its second place ranking in Arizona. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports a six-fold increase in the total number of deaths from 2001 to 2014. Because heroin is a more cost-effective substitute it can drive the cycle of addiction much faster than some other substances.

 Seeking Treatment

Methamphetamine and heroin are both highly addictive and powerful substances, quickly becoming the drugs of choice for users. In many cases, the only way to recover is by seeking professional treatment. Reflections Recovery Center is Prescott, Arizona’s premier treatment facility. The trained professionals and proven techniques can be the key to forming healthier habits and coping mechanisms.

Reflections Recovery Has Been Treating Arizona Natives and Visitors From Neighboring States for Years, and Has Developed Successful Tactics in Providing Full Recovery From Heroin, Methamphetamine, Alcohol and Drugs
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What real clients have to say about Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona
Reflections provided me with the tools that got me where i am today with 14 months sober.
— Ricky A, Long Beach CA
Reflections gave me a life and an opportunity to become part of society. They challenged me and shaped me into the man I want to be.
— Dyer K, Gilbert AZ
I learned how to stay sober, found my best friends and created a new life at Reflections
— David S, Phoenix AZ

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